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Former Hearts and Rangers defender Marius Zaliukas dies aged 36

The Lithuanian defender was a Scottish Cup winner with Hearts in 2012.

Former Hearts and Rangers defender Marius Zaliukas dies aged 36 SNS Group

Marius Zaliukas, who captained Hearts and played for Rangers, has died at the age of 36.

The Lithuanian international defender’s wife Nora Žaliūkė announced the news on social media on Saturday. Zaliukas had been fighting illness.

“He will rest peacefully in eternal silence,” she wrote. “The heart of Marius Zaliukas stopped beating today.”

Zaliukas moved to Scottish football in 2006, joining Hearts on loan initially, and became a mainstay in the Tynecastle club’s defence. He became club captain and lifted the Scottish Cup in 2012 after a 5-1 win over city rivals Hibernian that is considered one of the club’s most memorable games.

The defender played more than 200 games for Hearts before moving to Leeds United in 2013. However, he returned to Scottish football the following year, joining Rangers and spending a year at Ibrox.

Zaliukas made 25 appearances for the Lithuanian national team, scoring once.

A statement on on the website of the Lithuanian football federation said: “Marius Žaliūkas, a long-term defender of the national team and the legendary Lithuanian footballer, went on eternal rest. The footballer was just 36 years old.

“Marius Žaliūkas represented the Lithuanian national team from 2006 to 2016 and managed to score one goal. Marius inspired countless young footballers, and his contribution to Lithuanian football will never be forgotten.

“During his excellent career, the player represented FBK Kaunas, Kauno Inkaro, Šilutė, Edinburgh Hearts, Glasgow Rangers, Leeds United and Vilnius Žalgiris clubs. 

“On behalf of the Lithuanian football community, we express our deepest condolences to Marius’ family.”